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August 3, 2011
UK Decides (for now) Against Site Blocking To Combat Internet Piracy
The British government has decided not to introduce measures under the Digital Economy Act (DEA) that would block web sites that facilitate illegal file sharing. The Act had called for blocking in Sections 17 and 18. The Guardian is reporting that Business Secretary Vince Cable has decided against measures for now as they would be too cumbersome and unworkable, though he is still considering what options are practical to address the problem. Apparently copyright enforcement is harder when taking into account elements such as process and judicial enforcement.
The conclusion that site blocking could not be effective under current law is echoed in an Ofcom report released today called “Site Blocking” To Reduce Online Copyright Infringement. Ofcom is the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries. Ofcom examined several technical methods for site blocking: IP address blocking, blocking via DNS, URL blocking, and blocking sites after identifying traffic via deep packet inspection. Each was considered in turn. No technique, or even hybrids of them, was considered to be 100% effective, had different costs associated with them, and carried the risk of over-blocking. Deep packet inspection carried the additional risk of affecting consumer privacy.
The real culprit, though, was the slow pace of the judiciary. The example raised was the recent case presented to the British courts by film studios against the Newzbin2 web site where an injunction was granted forcing ISP BT to cut off access to the site. The case started in March of 2010, with application for the injunction in December, and the grant made in July of this year. The problem is that a site could pop up just before a major televised sporting or entertainment event and vanish within a day after, frustrating any attempts to take down the site through the judicial process.
Communication Minister Ed Vaizey is working on negotiations between rights holders and ISPs to see if an extrajudicial process similar to the six strikes plan brokered in the United States might be viable. See my earlier posts, ISPs To Get Involved in Copyright Enforcement and The Next Approach to Online Piracy for additional information. One similar provision would be to charge recipients of letters alleging infringement £20 to initiate an appeal. This is justified, as in the U.S. plan, to hold down the number of frivolous appeals. Unlike the U.S. version of the plan, however, the fee would be refunded if the appeal succeeded. There is no indication yet that something like this is the way forward in the UK.
It is refreshing that at least one government recognizes that the problem of Internet piracy is significant but that heavy-handed approaches that appeal to the studios and labels are not necessarily in the best interests of the governed. I hope the UK government can come up with a workable, nuanced approach to the problem. [MG]
The United Kingdom Chapter of Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo held their general elections to mark the end of a 2-year term for the pioneering executives of the organisation elected on the 7 th of July 2007.
Posted by: Professional Translation | Jan 9, 2012 7:08:25 PM